Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie: Nobody Else But You (U.S. 2012)

Nobody Else But You, known as Poupoupidou in France for reasons that will become evident, slipped into a handful of American theaters last year with zero fanfare. Hard to believe a twisted comic thriller about a crime novelist solving the murder of the putative reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe didn’t gain any box office traction against The Avengers.

David Rousseau is stalled on his next book; everyone compares him unfavorably to James Ellroy and he’s toying with using a Scandinavian pseudonym. But when he travels to a remote region of France known as “Little Siberia” for the reading of a relative’s will – he doesn’t inherit much – he stumbles onto the perfect yarn: the apparent suicide of model turned bottle blonde bombshell turned regional celebrity Candice Lecoeur (the luminous Sophie Quinton). Rousseau badly wants foul play to be involved, and his unorthodox unauthorized investigation plus the curious reaction of the locals convinces him he’s onto something.

Rousseau’s misadventures in the small town have a mordant sensibility reminiscent of the Coen Brothers. But the film’s strongest scenes trace Candice’s evolution from not-so-ugly duckling born on the wrong side of the tracks to the woman everyone in this corner of the world wants a piece of. Marilyn Monroe becomes Candice’s role model and the key Rousseau uses to unlock the mystery.

Writer/director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu plays a bit fast and loose with story logic in the late going, but the emotional logic cannot be faulted. The ultimate explanation for Candice’s fate is both wholly plausible and heartbreakingly sad. And the final beat, about the significance of stories not only for the audience but for the teller, is quite moving. Nobody Else But You is a silly, sardonic film with a power that sneaks up on you.